There are always so many to learn from doing performance.
The spider piece that I performed before and this beetle piece are from my Self-Portrait series. Insects and arachnids look intimidating to many people, but they are also so vulnerable to human beings. I’m so fascinated by this contrast. When I was performing the spider piece, I collapsed emotionally. It was more than I could handle in the end. I felt that, in that space, I was prominent but also invisible. I was surrounded by an audience but also isolated. As I crawled to viewers, they all stepped back to keep a distance from me. I only got the chance to touch someone’s foot. The floor was cold, and flesh and blood was warm. I wasn’t firmly attached to the sculpture I wore at the beginning of that performance, but, after a while, I realized that it was the only thing I had. It was my closest companion.
The experience with the beetle piece was really different. The horn became an extension of my body. I touched audience members with its sharp end, grazing a cheek, tapping shoulders, and pointing to a heart. I was surprised how people trusted me that I wouldn’t hurt them but only touch them gently. The beauty and tenderness of that power dynamic broke my heart. I attached and lost parts of myself on each spectator.
I touched the audience and also was touched by them at the same time. Through working on the project The Skin of a Human Being, I saw myself as an observer, a director, and an outsider. I was holding a mirror to things in front of me, but I wasn’t aware that the mirror, also the reflection in the mirror, became part of my body. A kid playing with her shadows didn’t know that she was also manipulated by the shadow.
Looking for patterns rather than content. It’s time to look at interactions.
I read The Man Who Laughs when I was a child. I forget the most of the story, but I still remember one scene, duchess Josiana’s confession to a clown named Gwynplaine whose mouth has been mutilated into a perpetual grin. She was telling him that she loved him because he was deformed and love. However, after she was commanded to marry Gwynplaine who is the son of a nobleman, she immediately told him that she hated him. Josiana’s pleasure came from despising herself by this relationship. I couldn’t fully understand that, but it seared into my memory, and I always think about it. What are we really looking at? What are we really obsessing with?
I don’t know, but I think I know this game better now.
“She ceased. He trembled. Then she went on, smiling: “You see, Gwynplaine, to dream is to create; to desire is to summon; to build up the chimera is to provoke the reality. The all-powerful and terrible mystery will not be defied; it produces result ; you are here. Do I dare to lose caste?— Yes. Do I dare to be your mistress, your concubine, your slave, your chattel?— Joyfully. Gwynplaine, I am woman; woman is clay longing to become mire. I want to despise myself; that lends a zest to pride. The alloy of greatness is baseness; they combine in perfection. Despise me, you who are despised; nothing can be better,— degradation on degrada tion. What joy ! I pluck the double blossom of ignominy. Trample me under foot ; you will only love me the more,— I am sure of it. Do you understand why I idolize you ?—Because I despise you. You are so immeasurably below me that I placeyouonanaltar. Bringthehighestandlowest depths together, and you have chaos; and I delight in chaos,— chaos, the beginning and end of every thing. What is chaos?— A huge blot. Out of that blot God made light, and out of that sink the world. You don’t know how perverse I can be. Knead a star in mud, and you will have my likeness.”
Ayako by Osamu Tezuka(for me, this story is a different version of Icarus.):
Two weeks passed, and all at once the weather turned warm. Zhenbao went to work in his shirtsleeves, but before long it started to sprinkle and a chill blew in. He went back during his lunch hreak to get his coat. It had been hanging on the rack in the hall, but now it was gone. He searched and searched for it and eventually he started to worry. He saw that the living-room door had been left ajar. He pushed it open and there was his coat, hooked on the frame of an oil painting: Jiaorui was sitting on the sofa beneath, quietly lighting a cigarette. Sur-prised, Zhenbao quickly retreated, squeezing himself out of sight. But he couldn’t resist taking another peek. Jiaorui, it turned out, wasn’t smoking at all. There was an ashtray on the arm of the sofa, and she struck a match, lit the stub of an old cigarette, and watched it burn all the way down. When at last it singed her fingers, she threw the butt aside, lifted her fingers to her mouth and blew on them lightly, a look of utter content-ment on her face. The cloisonnéashtray, he realized, was from his room.
Zhenbao was bewildered, and he slipped away like a thief. It seemed incomprehensible at first, and even after thinking it through, he was mystified: Jiaorui, smitten, sitting near his coat and letting the cigarette scent from his clothes waft down over her. As if that weren’t enough, she’d lit his used cigarette butts … she really was a child, spoiled rotten, someone who’d always gotten whatever she wanted, and now that she’d run into some-one with an ounce of resistance, she dreamed only of him. The mind of a child and the beauty of a grown woman: the most tempting of combinations. Zhenbao could no longer resist.这样又过了两个礼拜，天气骤然暖了，他没穿大衣出去，后来下了两点雨，又觉寒飕飕的，他在午饭的时候赶回来拿大衣，大衣原是挂在穿堂里的衣架上的，却看不见。他寻了半日，着急起来，见起坐间的房门虚掩着，便推门进去，一眼看见他的大衣钩在墙上一张油画的画框上，娇蕊便坐在图画下的沙发上，静静的点着支香烟吸。振保吃了一惊，连忙退出门去，闪身在一边，忍不住又朝里看了一眼。原来娇蕊并不在抽烟，沙发的扶手上放着只烟灰盘子，她擦亮了火柴，点上一段吸残的烟，看着它烧，缓缓烧到她手指上，烫着了手，她抛掉了，把手送到嘴跟前吹一吹，仿佛很满意似的。他认得那景泰蓝的烟灰盘子就是他屋里那只。
Are gifts visualizations of people’s relationships?
“The Gift is alone: It is touched neither by generosity nor by gratitude, the soul does not contaminate it.”
What can I hold you with? I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the moon of the ragged suburbs. I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked long and long at the lonely moon. I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts that living men have honoured in marble: my father's father killed in the frontier of Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs, bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in the hide of a cow; my mother's grandfather —just twentyfour— heading a charge of three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on vanished horses. I offer you whatever insight my books may hold, whatever manliness or humour my life. I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never been loyal. I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved, somehow —the central heart that deals not in words, traffics not with dreams and is untouched by time, by joy, by adversities. I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about yourself, authentic and surprising news of yourself. I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat. - Jorge Luis Borges (1934)
Do not speak of the north and its sadness... Do not speak of the north and its sadness And a dread and malevolent fate. Surely this is a festive occasion: You and I, we are parting today. Never mind that the moon will not haunt us, And the dawn you and I will not meet. I will shower you with gifts, my beloved, Of a kind that have never been seen. Take my wavering, dancing reflection In the shimmery glass of a stream; Take my gaze that the great, swooning stars As they fall from the heavens arrests; Take my voice, take its spent, broken echo, Once so summery, youthful and fresh.... Take my gifts: they will help you to listen Without pain to the gossiping birds In the wet of a Moscow October, And will turn autumn's gloom to the languor And the sweetness of May.... O, my angel, Think of me, think of me till the first Flakes of snow start to waltz in the air.... - Anna Akhmatova